June 16, 2019

High schools cash in on movie

SKOWHEGAN – The two-day filming of a football scene last week at Skowhegan and Waterville high schools for the HBO movie “Empire Falls” netted the two schools roughly $46,000.

“Each of the schools is getting a check of over $23,000,” said Dee Cooke, casting director for extras. “The checks are being processed right now.”

Spectators, football team members and cheerleaders volunteered for the shoot, with the film company donating the cost per extra to the respective schools. About 630 extras were paid the first day and about 600 on the second day, Cooke said.

About 150 cars also were used over the two days, adding another $25 per car to the tally, Cooke said.

School officials say the payments far exceeded their expectations.

“I was shocked,” said Skowhegan Area High School Principal Gilbert “Specs” Eaton. “It goes well beyond the quoted figure of $32 a head. I’m flabbergasted.”

Eaton said he had planned to use what he expected was going to be about $5,000 to fix the “crumbling sign” in front of the high school. Now, he said, he is going to have to reassess how the money will be spent.

Scott Phair, principal at Waterville High School, said he, too, was surprised that the payment was so large.

Phair said part of the money would be going to the booster groups that sent representatives to the game. The band also will get a chunk of the money, along with football and academic boosters.

Madison High School also earned about $1,000 for its school’s film program because students there served as assistants and movie extras, Cooke said.

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